Author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

South Carolina House has its most contested primaries since 2014

The number of contested primaries in the South Carolina House of Representatives rose to 48 this year, the most since 2014. With 124 House districts holding elections, this represents 19% of the 248 possible primaries in the chamber.

Of those 44 contested primaries, 12 include Democrats and 36 include Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 17 in 2020, a 29% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 50% from 24 in the previous cycle.

Ten of the contested primaries are taking place in open districts where no incumbents filed to run. The remaining 34 contested primaries include incumbents: 11 Democrats and 23 Republicans. That equals 30.6% of incumbents who filed for re-election, the largest percentage since 2018 in the chamber.

The filing deadline for candidates running for the state House in South Carolina this year was March 30. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 124 House districts. The 46 Senate districts are not up for election this year. Senators serve four-year terms and face re-election during presidential election cycles.

Overall, 243 major party candidates filed: 85 Democrats and 158 Republicans.

South Carolina has been a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the governorship in 2002. Republicans currently hold an 80-43 majority in the House and a 30-16 majority in the Senate.

South Carolina’s primaries are scheduled for June 14.

Additional reading:



Five Republican candidates for Governor of Michigan will remain off ballot

Welcome to the Friday, May 27, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot
  2. Newcomers will represent 31% of Iowa’s state legislative districts
  3. #FridayTrivia: Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

Five gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot

Five Republican gubernatorial candidates in Michigan will remain off the ballot following a May 26 meeting of the Board of State Canvassers. 

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and business owner Perry Johnson, whom The Detroit News described as top candidates for the Republican nomination, were among those five, alongside Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, and Michael Markey, Jr. Brown withdrew his candidacy on May 24.

The candidates failed to qualify for the ballot following a May 23 report from the state Bureau of Elections that found 36 petition circulators had forged an estimated 68,000 signatures across multiple campaigns’ sets of nominating petitions, including those of the five affected gubernatorial candidates.

After excluding signatures gathered by these particular circulators, the bureau determined the candidates had submitted an insufficient number of valid signatures and would not appear on the ballot.

At issue during the May 26 canvassing board meeting was whether the board would affirm the bureau’s report or, instead, vote to place the affected candidates on the ballot.

The board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans nominated by state parties and appointed by the governor, deadlocked in a series of 2-2 votes regarding the gubernatorial candidates. At least three votes were needed to add an affected candidate’s name to the ballot. Democratic members voted for approving the bureau’s report and Republican members voted against it.

Since the board could not reach a majority vote regarding the gubernatorial candidates, the candidates will remain off the ballot. 

Candidates can file lawsuits challenging this decision. So far, Craig, Johnson—through his attorney—and Markey have indicated they would take the issue to court. The state aims to finalize its official candidate list by June 3 ahead of the June 18 legal deadline to mail finalized absentee ballots to military and overseas voters.

Michigan law requires Democratic and Republican candidates for governor to submit at least 15,000, but no more than 30,000, valid signatures in order to make the ballot. Candidates must collect at least 100 valid signatures in each of at least half of the state’s congressional districts. The filing deadline was April 19.

Of the states holding gubernatorial elections this year, only Florida requires Democratic and Republican candidates to submit more signatures than Michigan. In Florida, major party candidates must submit at least 144,419 valid signatures to make the ballot. Candidates can also opt to pay an $8,051 filing fee instead of submitting a petition. Michigan law does not allow for a filing-fee option. Click here to learn more about state-specific ballot access requirements.

Michigan currently has a divided government with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislature.

Five candidates remain on the ballot in the Republican primary: Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, Kevin Rinke, and Garrett Soldano. Incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination.

The Cook Political Report currently rates the general election as a Toss-Up with two other forecasters rating the race as Lean or Tilt Democratic. Whitmer was first elected in 2018, receiving 53% of the vote. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) received 51% of the vote in Michigan to Donald Trump’s (R) 48% in that year’s presidential election.

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Newcomers will represent 31% of Iowa’s state legislative districts next year

With the May 24 primaries behind us, we are looking ahead to the next round of statewide primaries, scheduled for June 7. Seven states will be holding primaries, including Iowa, which we are taking a closer look at today.

Forty-six state legislative districts up for election this year in Iowa are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That equals 33% of the 134 districts up for election and 31% of all 150 districts in the Iowa General Assembly.

Since no incumbents are running, newcomers to the assembly are guaranteed to win open districts. This is the most guaranteed newcomers to the Iowa General Assembly since 2014.

Iowa does not have term limits, meaning 41 of these districts are open because incumbents either retired or chose to run for some other office. Five other districts are open due to redistricting moving incumbents into districts with other incumbents. This can lead to incumbent versus incumbent contests if multiple incumbents choose to run in the same district.

There are four incumbent versus incumbent contests in Iowa this year. In these races, since only one candidate can win, one incumbent is guaranteed to lose:

While the number of open seats dictates the number of guaranteed newcomers, new members can also assume office by defeating incumbents—in either primaries or the general election—or following incumbent resignations or withdrawals during the election cycle.

The total number of contested primaries—including those featuring incumbents and those in open districts—also reached its highest point since 2014.

This year, there are 44 contested primaries: 13 Democratic primaries and 31 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 12 in 2020, an 8% increase. For Republicans, the number increased 94% from 13 in 2020 to 31 in 2022.

Overall, 254 major party candidates filed: 112 Democrats and 142 Republicans. That equals 1.9 candidates per district, the same as 2020, and down from 2.0 in 2018.

Iowa has been a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the state Senate in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 32-18 majority in the Senate and a 60-40 majority in the House.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

In the Wednesday Brew, we told you about developments in one of the country’s 100 largest cities by population. On May 24, the mayor of this city resigned following the publication of information from an investigation regarding the sale of a stadium. This created a vacancy, currently the only mayoral vacancy across those 100 largest cities.

Which of the 100 largest cities currently has a mayoral vacancy?

  1. Jacksonville, Fla.
  2. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  3. Denver, Colo. 
  4. Anaheim, Calif.


Highest rate of Missouri state senators facing primary challengers since 2014

Six of the nine Missouri state senators running for re-election—all Republicans—face contested primaries. That equals 67% of incumbents seeking re-election, the highest rate since 2014. This is also the first cycle since 2014 with more than one Republican incumbent facing primary challengers.

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose. Historically, however, Missouri incumbents tend to win contested primaries.

Since 2014, only one state senator—Sen. Jacob Hummel (D)—has lost to a primary challenger in Missouri. This means that during that time, 86% of incumbents in contested primaries ultimately advanced to the general election.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—is also at its highest point this year. With 17 districts holding elections, there are 34 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 13 contested primaries, all among Republicans. This is the first time since 2014 without any contested Democratic primaries in the chamber. All but four districts up for election will have a contested Republican primary.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state Senate in Missouri was March 29. Candidates filed to run for 17 of the state’s 34 Senate districts.

Overall, 51 major party candidates filed to run in the chamber this year: 12 Democrats and 39 Republicans.

Missouri has been a Republican trifecta since the party won the governorship in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 24-10 majority in the Senate and a 108-48 majority in the House.

Missouri’s primaries are scheduled for August 2, the tenth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.



Percentage of Missouri state legislative incumbents facing primaries at its highest since 2014

Thirty-five of the 132 Missouri state legislators running for re-election—13 Democrats and 22 Republicans—face contested primaries. That equals 27% of incumbents seeking re-election, the highest rate since 2014. The remaining 73% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose. Historically, however, Missouri incumbents tend to win contested primaries.

Since 2014, six state legislative incumbents—four Democrats and two Republicans—have lost to primary challengers in Missouri. This means that during that time, 92% of incumbents in contested primaries advanced to the general election.

This year, at least one incumbent is guaranteed to lose. Two Democratic incumbents—Reps. Mike Person (D) and Raychel Proudie (D)—were drawn into the same St. Louis-area district during the redistricting process. Only one will advance to the general election.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—is also up this year, though lower than in 2018. With 180 districts holding elections, there are 360 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 69 contested primaries—15 Democratic primaries and 54 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 22 in 2020, a 32% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 29%, from 42 in 2020 to 54 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Missouri was March 29. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 163 House districts and 17 of the 34 Senate districts.

Forty-nine of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, a lower figure than in recent cycles. This decrease comes as fewer legislators face term limits barring them from seeking re-election compared to recent election cycles.

In 2018, 53 legislators were term-limited, and 42 faced limits in 2020. In both cycles, the Missouri State Legislature was one of the most affected by term limits out of the 15 states with limits nationwide. This year, 24 legislators faced term limits.

Overall, 361 major party candidates filed to run this year: 126 Democrats and 235 Republicans.

Missouri has been a Republican trifecta since the party won the governorship in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 24-10 majority in the Senate and a 108-48 majority in the House.

Missouri’s primaries are scheduled for August 2, the tenth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:

  1. Missouri State Senate elections, 2022
  2. Missouri House of Representatives elections, 2022
  3. Impact of term limits on state legislative elections in 2022


4.5% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 61 state legislative incumbents—13 Democrats and 48 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 12 states that have held primaries, 4.5% of incumbents running for re-election have lost. This is both the largest number and highest incumbent loss rate in these 12 states since 2014.

In addition to earlier primaries, these totals include preliminary results from primaries held in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, as well as primary runoffs in Texas, on May 24. So far, four incumbents have lost, one in each of those four states, all of whom are Republicans.

So far this year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 869 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 48 (5.5%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 13 of the 474 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

However, fewer Democrat incumbents are facing primary challengers than their Republican counterparts. Around 21% of the Democratic incumbents faced contested primaries compared to 35% for Republicans.

Overall, in those 12 states, 1,343 incumbents filed for re-election, 406 of whom (30%) faced primary challengers

Seventeen of the incumbents who lost primaries so far were due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can oftentimes end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. In these races, there are more incumbents than nominations or seats available, guaranteeing that at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 12 states that have held primaries so far, one had a Democratic trifecta, eight had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 12 states, there are 1,655 seats up for election, 11% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 64 primaries featuring incumbents—19 Democrats and 45 Republicans—that remain uncalled.

You can view a full list of defeated incumbents and defeat totals from previous years by clicking “Learn More” below.



24% of Missouri House incumbents face contested primaries

Twenty-nine of the 123 Missouri state representatives running for re-election—13 Democrats and 16 Republicans—face contested primaries. That equals 24% of incumbents seeking re-election to the Missouri House of Representatives, the highest rate since 2014. The remaining 76% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose. Historically, however, Missouri incumbents tend to win contested primaries.

Since 2014, only five state representatives—three Democrats and two Republicans—have lost to primary challengers in Missouri. This means that during that time, 93% of incumbents in contested primaries ultimately advanced to the general election.

This year, at least one House incumbent is guaranteed to lose. Two Democratic incumbents—Reps. Mike Person (D) and Raychel Proudie (D)—were drawn into the same St. Louis-area district during the redistricting process. Only one will advance to the general election.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—is also up this year, though lower than in 2018. With 163 House districts holding elections, there are 326 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 56 contested primaries in the House—15 Democratic primaries and 41 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 18 in 2020, a 17% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 21%, from 34 in 2020 to 41 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for the Missouri House of Representatives was March 29. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 163 House districts.

Forty-one of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, a lower figure than in recent cycles. This decrease comes as fewer legislators face term limits barring them from seeking re-election compared to recent election cycles.

In 2018, 44 representatives were term-limited, and 34 faced limits in 2020. In both cycles, the Missouri House of Representatives was the lower chamber most affected by term limits out of the 15 with limits nationwide. This year, 14 legislators faced term limits.

Overall, 361 major party candidates filed to run for the House in 2022: 114 Democrats and 192 Republicans.

Missouri has been a Republican trifecta since the party won the governorship in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 24-10 majority in the Senate and a 108-48 majority in the House.

Missouri’s primaries are scheduled for August 2, the tenth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:



Incumbent John Thurston defeats Eddie Joe Williams in Arkansas’ Republican primary for secretary of state

Incumbent John Thurston defeated former state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams in the Republican primary for Arkansas Secretary of State on May 24, 2022.

Based on unofficial results, Thurston had 72% of the vote to Williams’ 28%.

During the primary, Thurston and Williams disagreed on how Arkansas handled the 2020 election. Thurston said, “There were inconsistencies across the country … however, as a result of the hard work of my staff, we did not have these issues in Arkansas.”

Williams pointed to 327 disqualified ballots included in the total count for Pulaski County, saying, “When that happens, leadership has to stand up … I will make every effort to ensure that doesn’t happen again.”

Thurston was first elected secretary of state in 2018 and served as the commissioner of state lands from 2011 to 2019. Before entering office, Thurston was a minister in Little Rock and with the Arkansas state prison system.

Thurston highlighted his experience as secretary of state, saying he would “continue the focus on election security, preservation and security of the Capitol, and to continue to provide great customer service to those wishing to do business within the state of Arkansas.”

Williams was mayor of Cabot from 2007 to 2010 and served in the Arkansas Senate from 2011 to 2017. Williams left that position when former President Donald Trump (R) appointed him to the Southern States Energy Board. Williams also worked with Union Pacific Railroad as a regional director of transportation.

In a candidate interview, Williams said, “my greatest obligation as secretary of state is to prepare for the unexpected, whether that is preparing for Capitol protests, ensuring integrity during elections, or having groups and teams ready to uphold Arkansas voting laws.”

In Arkansas, the secretary of state has jurisdiction over state election laws, ensuring uniform implementation throughout the state. The secretary of state is also responsible for assisting county officials with conducting elections. In addition to election-related responsibilities, the secretary of state oversees business filings and maintains the state capitol grounds and the capitol police.

Arkansas has a Republican triplex, meaning Republicans control the offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Upon his election to the office in 2018, Thurston became the second Republican secretary of state in Arkansas since Reconstruction.



Incumbent Kemp defeats Perdue and three others in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary

Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp defeated former U.S. Sen. David Perdue and three other candidates—Catherine Davis, Kandiss Taylor, and Tom Williams—in the Republican primary election for governor of Georgia on May 24, 2022. With 57% of precincts reporting, Kemp had 73% of the vote, followed by Perdue with 23%. No other candidate received more than 5% of the vote.

Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) endorsed Kemp. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Perdue.

Kemp was first elected governor in 2018 when he defeated Stacey Abrams (D) 50% to 48%. Kemp served as the Georgia secretary of state from 2010 to 2018 and in the Georgia State Senate from 2003 to 2007. In a debate, Kemp said, “Every day that I’ve been in office, I’ve been putting hardworking Georgians first, ahead of the status quo and the politically correct. And I’m going to continue to do that the rest of my tenure.”

The 2020 election results were a subject of debate in the primary. During an April 24 debate, Perdue said Kemp did not do enough to investigate election fraud claims, saying, “[Kemp] would not stop the consent decree that was signed, he would not give us a special session. And this past year he’s not investigated anything.”

Kemp responded, “The investigative authority per the laws and the constitution of this state in 2020 lies with the secretary of state’s office and the state elections board. Now, we have had things that have been given to our office that we’ve looked into and when we thought they had merit we referred them to the proper authorities to investigate.”

If no candidate had received a majority of the vote, the top-two finishers would have advanced to a runoff election.

Kemp will face Abrams once again in the November general election. As of May 2022, The Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the 2022 general election as a Toss-upInside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race as Tilt Republican.



Newcomers will represent 38% of Maine’s state legislative districts next year

Seventy-one state legislative districts up for election this year in Maine are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That equals 38% of the 186 districts in the Maine State Legislature.

Since no incumbents are present, newcomers to the legislature are guaranteed to win open districts. This is the most guaranteed newcomers to the Maine State Legislature since 2014.

Maine is one of 15 states with term limits for state legislators. In both the Senate and House, legislators can serve four two-year terms for a total of eight years. This year, 46 legislators are term-limited: 10 in the Senate and 36 in the House. The remaining 25 open districts were caused by legislators leaving office for another reason.

Overall, 384 major party candidates filed: 183 Democrats and 201 Republicans. That equals 2.1 candidates per district, the same as in 2020 and 2018.

There are 33 contested primaries—12 Democratic primaries and 21 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 25 in 2020, a 52% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 133% from nine in 2020 to 21 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Maine this year was March 15. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 151 House districts and 35 Senate districts.

Maine has been a Democratic trifecta since Democrats won control of the governorship and Senate in 2018. Democrats currently hold a 21-13 majority in the Senate and an 80-64 majority in the House.

Maine’s primaries are scheduled for June 14, the seventh statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:



The latest numbers on state legislative primaries

Welcome to the Tuesday, May 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Number of contested state legislative primaries up 38% compared to 2020
  2. It’s primary day in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia
  3. Initiative to increase medical malpractice lawsuit caps in California withdrawn following legislative compromise

Number of contested state legislative primaries up 38% compared to 2020

There are 38% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 77% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/top-four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 7%.

We’ve been providing regular updates about the elevated number of contested state legislative primaries this year throughout this election cycle.  Last week, our update included 16 states. This week, these figures include chambers holding elections in 20 states that account for 2,476 (40%) of the 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year.

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on May 18, we have added post-filing deadline data from Georgia, Iowa, Maine, and New Mexico. Overall, five states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 12 have Republican trifectas, and three have divided governments.

Of the 20 states in this analysis, 18 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in nine states, decreased in seven, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 17 states and decreased in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for increased primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting might create new districts, which can create more primary opportunities.

Use the link below to view these topline figures as well as additional state-specific statistics.

Keep reading 

It’s primary day in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia

Today is the fifth statewide primary election day of the 2022 cycle. Voters in three states—Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia—are selecting their general election nominees. Here’s a quick look at some of the races on the ballot:

U.S. Senate

All three states are holding U.S. Senate primaries. Incumbents face contested primaries in Arkansas and Georgia. In Alabama, incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby (R) is retiring, opening the door to a six-candidate field in the state’s Republican primary.

U.S. House

This is the first post-redistricting House election in these three states, all of which kept the same number of congressional districts after the 2020 census: seven in Alabama, four in Arkansas, and 14 in Georgia

There is one incumbent v. incumbent primary in Georgia between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) and Lucy McBath (D). McBath currently represents the 6th Congressional District but chose to run in the 7th District, represented by Bourdeaux, after redistricting altered lines in the Atlanta suburbs. At least one incumbent is guaranteed to lose here.

McBath’s move also leaves Georgia’s 6th District open, one of three open districts across these three states. The other two openings came from Republican incumbents running for other offices: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) for U.S. Senate and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) for secretary of state.

State executive offices

All three states are also holding primaries for state executive offices like the governorship. In Alabama and Georgia, incumbent Republican governors face several primary challengers. And in all three states, including Arkansas, we are following Republican primaries for secretary of state, where issues including voting policies and the 2020 presidential election have played central roles.

State legislature

All three states are holding state legislative primaries. Every legislative district in these states is up for election: 140 in Alabama, 135 in Arkansas, and 236 in Georgia. Republicans hold majorities in all three states.

We’ve taken a look at the state legislative primaries in Alabama and Arkansas in past editions of the Brew, but here’s the lay of the land in Georgia.

Sixty-three of the 188 Georgia state legislators running for re-election this year—27 Democrats and 36 Republicans—face contested primaries. That’s 34% of incumbents seeking re-election, the most since 2014. The remaining 66% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—also reached its highest point since 2014. With 236 districts, there are 472 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 104 contested primaries—51 Democratic primaries and 53 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 49 in 2020, a 4% increase. For Republicans, that number increased 71% from 31 in 2020 to 53 this year.

Primary runoffs

Texas is also holding several primary runoffs today in races where no candidate received more than 50% of the vote on March 3. The top two finishers in each race advanced to today’s runoffs. Offices up include U.S. House, attorney general, and the state legislature. Battlegrounds include the Democratic primary in Texas’ 28th Congressional District and both major party primaries for Attorney General. Click here to view the Texas runoffs within our coverage scope.

And use the link below to view every May 24 race we’re covering. Be sure to check back tomorrow for some unofficial results! And subscribe to our Heart of the Primaries newsletter for even deeper dives into party primaries throughout the cycle.

Keep reading 

Initiative to increase medical malpractice lawsuit caps in California withdrawn following legislative compromise

On May 19, the sponsors of an initiative to increase California’s cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits withdrew the measure from the November ballot after reaching a compromise with state legislators.

In medical malpractice lawsuits, economic damages cover the cost of a patient’s procedure and any procedures needed to address injuries caused by malpractice. Non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering awards, go beyond those costs to account for other outcomes of malpractice, like physical impairments or disabilities.

In 1975, lawmakers set the non-economic damages cap at $250,000. The ballot initiative would have adjusted the cap for inflation each year. The initiative would also have allowed judges and juries to award damages above the cap for catastrophic injuries, including permanent physical impairment, disfigurement, or disability, and death.

On April 27, the initiative’s sponsors announced a legislative compromise that will raise the cap on pain and suffering awards to $350,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The cap will rise to $750,000 over the following 10 years. For cases involving a patient’s death, the cap will increase to $500,000 at the start of next year, rising to $1 million over the following 10 years. After that, the cap will be annually adjusted by 2%.

On May 5, the California Senate voted 37-1 in favor of the compromise. The Assembly voted 66-0 on May 12 in favor. The bill is currently awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) signature.

The initiative qualified for the ballot in July 2020 after filing 910,667 signatures, of which 688,142 were valid. In California, proponents of a ballot initiative can withdraw their proposal after signatures are verified, as long as the proposal is withdrawn at least 131 days before the general election. California adopted this withdrawal process in 2014. Since then, proponents of seven citizen-initiated ballot measures have withdrawn their proposals after qualifying for the ballot.

Ninety-four statewide ballot measures have been certified for the ballot in 33 states so far this year, including three in California.

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